A travel packing guide for runners

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Last Updated on October 20, 2014

Last year, when we spent a couple of months in New York City, I took up running again. It had been years since I’d run, but something in New York inspired me to head out and run. It might have been the lovely spring weather, or just the amount of runners that would pass me on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade near our house, or the amazing cityscape that had me forget time more than once. I remember how often I returned home 90 minutes or even two hours later, with Jess already worrying what the heck had happened to me. I had simply found a form of exercise I really enjoyed and could do forever (well, maybe not literally forever).

brooklyn bridge new york city
Sightseerunning across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York

When we returned to New York in November, we happened to be in town for the New York Marathon, which a friend took part in. So we went to Central Park to cheer her on just before the finish line. And I was hooked. Watching these runners, feeling that buzz in the air, the energy that was coming from them, I knew I wanted to run a marathon.

New York Marathon 2013
New York Marathon 2013

As soon as I had left the Andes (being at an altitude of 4,000 meters / 13,000 feet makes running pretty much impossible!), I started running again. As soon as I knew I was going to New York, I was looking up races I could take part in. I had hoped to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon on 17 May, but it was already sold out when I signed up. So I registered for the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k in Central Park this Saturday instead. Not a massive race, but I feel like I’ll sign up for the next race as soon as I get home from that 10k.

Since I started running again, I’ve been out running almost every day, and during my travels in the last couple of months (and my most recent trip to Malta), I realized that I had to adjust my packing list – and my backpack has been considerably fuller since I started packing my running gear.

Running in Malta
Running in Malta

If you are planning to incorporate running into your travels, here are the running essentials that I’ve added to my packing list:


Of course I’ve always traveled with deodorant, but now that I’m running, a strong deodorant is absolutely necessary. Not just any deodorant but a good antiperspirant that actually keeps you from sweating – men should look to pack something strong like Lynx Body Spray.

Soap Sheets

I also pack laundry soap sheets – they are these tiny laundry detergent sheets, thinner than paper and a box of 50 sheets is smaller than a travel-sized shampoo! They are perfect for traveling, and you’ll need them to wash your sweaty clothes, unless you want to make a trip to a laundry place every day.

Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle has been in my luggage for a while, but I appreciate it even more now that I am running every day. Since I am drinking so much water, I am also happy to have a steripen which allows me to filter water anywhere in the world, consequently saving me from wasting plastic bottles.

running buddies
Sadly too big to pack: My running buddy from Germany

Band Aids

Band Aids are another necessity – blisters will happen at one point or another.


The pain killer and anti-inflammatory of my choices. I was relieved to have packed it in Malta when my knee started acting up. Ibuprofen reduced the inflammation and pain massively!


You’ll want to make sure to bring an additional pair of running shoes. I was contemplating to use my Asics running shoes for both running and walking around sightseeing, but you really shouldn’t run in the same shoes you’re wearing all day long – unless you want to replace them within a couple of months and/or ruin your feet.

My brand new ASICS running shoes!
My brand new ASICS running shoes!

Running Gear: Fabletics

Last but not least, you’ll want to bring actual running clothes instead of just using the clothes you have with you anyway. Last year, I didn’t have any special running clothes and ran in my (cotton) shirt and shorts – what a difference it’s made to invest in actual running gear made from synthetic fabrics!At first, I only traveled with one running outfit, but because I work out nearly every single day, I invested in a second outfit. Now I have one long-sleeve shirt and one tank top and two pairs of leggins, and don’t have to worry about washing them constantly anymore. This also includes running socks (avoid 100% cotton socks when running!) and a well-fitting sports bra.  My latest sports gear crush is Fabletics, a brand new online athletic clothing retailer (founded only in October 2013) that offers personalized outfits chosen for customers based on their lifestyle and fashion preferences. I am in love with my Fabletics gear (pants, bra and tank top) – the material is superb and their clothes look so pretty that I’ve been wearing mine also when I did NOT work out. I also find their prices extremely reasonable – an entire 3-piece outfit will cost you around $39.90. I am pretty sure that I’ll order another outfit from them before the summer is over!

Other things

I love listening to podcasts when I run, so I always bring my iPod and headphones. My lifesaver on long runs: a portable battery charger. My iPod Touch doesn’t have the best battery life anymore, and my small charger easily fits in my pocket. If you’re using an app to track your performance, you might also consider investing in one of these portable chargers (mine was $20 and I couldn’t be happier with it).

I also use an exercise armband pouch bag to store my iPod while I’m running.

If you have long hair, also make sure to pack a few hair ties.

Running Gear

Are you a runner, too? And is there anything you’d add to my runner’s packing list?

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  1. I love running! Right now I just got back to Budapest from the UK and I was running there until the last few weeks where I just ate and drank instead!

    Anyway my running starts again on Monday and I am eyeing up new routes. I run everywhere from the parks to busy streets, it’s how I learn about cities and places.

    As for equipment. Running socks are essential. I recommend Hilly monoskins, they are amazing and last forever plus I wear them when on the plane as they are super comfy!

    I don’t actually think anti-perspirant is a good idea. The body is supposed to sweat when running, that’s the healthy thing. So better off is a good quality wicking (not sure if that’s spelled right) running shirt that pulls the sweat away from the pits and lets it evaporate off. Most decent running shirts do this these days.

    I run with a running belt, it holds my waterbottle and iphone and I also have a lightweight semi-waterproof wind breaker for those colder / rainer days. I find I can still wear shorts even a few notches below zero.

    I never thought of the soap sheets. I have spent countless hours scrubbing my running clothes in the shower with normal hand washing powder!

    What tracking app do you use? I use runkeeper but have been running without tech recently…. I need to lose a few pounds so will be pack to the tech route so I can keep track soon.

    1. Forest – the soap sheets are GREAT, the pack is tiny, they are super thin and make everything smell so good! I get your point with the anti-perspirant, btw, you might be right there 🙂 As for the running app – I use MapMyRun but find the GPS to be not very accurate when I use the app offline (I run with my iPod Touch, so I’m not online automatically). I had used Runtastic before but also didn’t love it 100 %. I’ll give Runkeeper a try next 🙂

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